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Old 04-30-2005, 02:47 PM   #1
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This morning I was skimming through Nick Yee's site, The Daedalus Project, and one of the statistics I noted was that older, female players tend to be the most loyal to the mud they currently play, probably in large part because of the importance of relationships they have built there.

Three other statistics about this demographic stuck out.

1) These players have a significant tendency towards jack-of-all-trades characters or hybrid class characters as opposed to pure class characters.

2) They tend to see their characters as their idealized self and tend to play their characters similarly.

3) Of all player types, they seem the least attracted to achievement gameplay.

As such, it seems a good character advancement system for them, as far as game mechanics are concerned, would be one that allows the player to achieve their "idealized self" as efficiently as possible, because it isn't the achievement so much as the customization that matters. Then they can get on with types of advancement that are really important to them -- relationship building and world exploration, for instance.

On the other hand, the advancement system should not be allowed to destroy immersion. This means injecting a certain amount of realism.

I think that the system would be classless in nature, with a relatively flat and interconnected hierarchy. What I'm less certain about is what type of initial customization it would be best to allow, and how abilities would respond to skill usage or lack thereof.

If you care little about advancement as a game mechanic, then does it still serve any necessary purpose? For instance, if everyone could do everything from the beginning, then you may lose some gameplay, but you gain your "idealized self" almost immediately simply by ignoring what skills or abilities don't fit your self-concept. But will you still be immersed in the world itself?
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Old 04-30-2005, 03:44 PM   #2
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My personal take on this, as I fall into the abovementioned demographic (no, I'm not TERRIBLY old!:

You don't need to modify the basic advancement system to accomodate me. Simply give me alternative means of advancement or self-fulfillment in the community. It doesn't have to make my character stronger, as long as I feel that I can contribute something and gain some respect without being able to kill the big monster Foo.

Two such systems, just to give an example, would be clans and creative play. I can work my ass off for a clan (and have done it before) - but if you require me to grind my way up to level 200 before I can think of joining or creating a clan, I'm not interested. If I should be a hindrance to my clan because I can't go on high level runs, I'm not interested. Whether I maintain a website, design a clan hall or help newbies, it's always better if other clan members can benefit from it, so that I don't become a burden. (Of course, you can argue that the clan benefits from such things without any ingame support, and you would be right - but some games are set up in such a way that it's just not enough.)

And it's similar for creative play. I shouldn't have to be high level to run an ingame newspaper or theatre, and I don't want to worry about my character getting deleted during a month-long absence just because I never bothered to slay a few thousand goblins. I don't want the level it would give me, but if I've contributed enough to the game and the community, I want the security that would come with a comparable status gained by fighting. I'm playing the game too, I'm investing into it too - just in a different way.

For crafting, give me a system that lets me make creative, customised items, maybe include puzzles and exploration, but don't make me grind. Why should I waste my time weaving 10000 ugly misshaped baskets only to be able to weave generic plain non-misshaped baskets ever after? Or, for that matter, why should I waste my time weaving those 10000 ugly baskets at all? I'd find it much more enjoyable if you give me a crafting system that lets me make anything within a given set of rules right from the start, but requires me to experiment and explore those rules to improve - think construction games like Rollercoaster Tycoon.

To sum it up, give me a good social network within which I could realise myself, give me a sandbox to entertain myself, and don't treat me like a second class citizen if I choose to play within those. You can keep your levels, I have no use for them.
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Old 05-01-2005, 01:08 AM   #3
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So... are your intentions to make a game for little old ladies?

I was amused by the commentator that pointed out socialisers had the greatest need for money with little source of income, while the achievers made the most money with little to spend it on. Seems like a very realistic system to me. Can you say "mud marriage"?

On some level though, I have to question the veracity of any research that finds women uninterested in "achievement". I think the subcomponents and their definitions predict the outcome of the survey - there's a definite male slant to Achievement and a female slant to Socialising. How many men will admit they like to chit-chat and gossip with other players? Or describe themsleves as lacking in self-sufficiency? Why is Mechanics a sub of Achievement if not to bias the score? Shouldn't it be grouped with Discovery? And when you define Competition as enjoying the rush of competition and power of domination, you won't get as many female respondents as you might if you mentioned the prize and the pride.

Anyway, Burr, I think your target audience is already happily engaged in consensual roleplay on various MUSHes, MUCKs and MOOS. They provide a game environment quite similar to what you describe.

( And yes, I am terribly old! )
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Old 05-01-2005, 01:49 AM   #4
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Keep in mind that Nick's project deals nearly exclusively with data collected from very large commercial projects that are monster bashing games (which we can assume have an audience that differs in some way from text mud audience), and that his methods lend his data very little legitimacy. All his data is collected via opt-in polls, for instance, which are statistically meaningless in terms of representing a population. Don't get me wrong: The Daedalus Project has some interesting stuff, but they're a curiosity, not something to really depend on, with much respect to Nick.

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Old 05-01-2005, 11:43 AM   #5
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So basically you're talking about "The Sims". Everything you outlined in your poll data is all pretty much what is contained in the computer game called "The Sims".
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